Ginger & Rosa
Director: Sally Potter (Orlando)
Screenplay: Potter (The Tango Lesson)
Cast: Elle Fanning (Super 8), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures)
Runtime: 90 min
by John DeSando
Ginger & Rosa is a deceptive title because this slight tale is intensely about Ginger (Elle Fanning), whose life is affected by Rosa (Alice Englert), but still defined by her own sense of herself and her notions of right and wrong.
A minimalist treatment of seventeen-year old Ginger as she faces crises personal and global, this portrait captures her emergence from happy childhood, certified by a perpetual smile, into a thoughtful young woman whose demeanor reflects her growing cynicism about the world and the people she loves.
Her London and the world in 1962 are awash in nuclear fear, crystallized in the Cuban Missile Crisis; Ginger is deeply concerned about the potential of the end of that world, so much so that she attends a rally for nuclear disarmament. Her father, Roland, is a free thinker who has influenced her autonomous thinking but whose own libertarian ways threaten Ginger’s sense of the right balance as she sees it.
Leaving her mother to stay with her father in effect untethers her from maternal protection and throws her into a world where even her best friend, Rosa can no longer provide her a sense of security. As Ginger loses faith in her father, her best friend also threatens to blast her sense of proportion in a growingly hostile world.
The common antidote for this cynicism is forgiveness, as the world both macro and micro, is rife with disappointment. The minimalism doesn’t always work in the film’s favor, for the development of the plot, begging a full resolution of Ginger’s relationship to the world, her family, and her friend, leaves me needing another ninety minutes.
Ginger and Rosa, better than any other films of its kind in recent memory, carries the angst of the ‘60’s in to 2013, and while obsession with the bomb has faded, the disappointments of young teenage girls over the imperfect world are constant and their optimism still intact: “Despite the horror and sorrow, I love our world.” (Ginger)
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com